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Friday, August 12, 2011
The third article in the series about the Tridentine Mass deals with some fallacies that I encounter related to Latin and the Tridentine Mass:
a) Latin is a universal dead language now. Latin is called dead for it does not change such as all the modern languages do, that is why the Roman Catholic Church still uses it. Latin is far from extinct, it provides the true form and root for understanding many legal and medical terms. It is also one of the official languages of the Holy See. And yes, you do not need to know Latin to appreciate this form of the Mass. There are Missals available in Latin with translation into other languages. And even if these are not available, do all the opera goers (to mention one classic example - pun intended) necessarily understand each and every language used in the preformances?
b) The Tridentine Mass is a cause of division among the faithful. This is the preferred argument used by some of the clergy in Malta who are vehemently opposed to this Mass. And yet they fail to acknowledge -or ignore the fact - that other than the Latin Mass there are many valid liturgical rites in the Catholic Church such as the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean. I will not attempt here to go into related issues like the fact that Baroque churches in Valletta - originally built for Tridentine Masses - are being used by the Orthodox and the Copts, but are 'not allowed' for Tridentine Masses.
c) Too much symbolism in the Tridentine Mass. This argument is used by some “who make the case for the Novus Ordo Missae” in the sense that this form is closer to the early Christian Mass. But then they do not document or explain what these arguments are. Indeed, studies show that the Last Supper had the sacrificial order of a Jewish Passover where each act had a deep symbolism beyond any language. This ritualistic form itself expressed a sacredness that is lacking in modern “social celebrations.” Also, they fail to mention the rich tradition of papal documents such as St. Pius V Quo Primum stating the reasons for the decree of the liturgical Latin Missal in 1570.
The way I see it: in the Tridentine Mass it is clear that along with the Eucharistic thanksgiving the priest is making a sacrificial offering to God and asking for His forgiveness and divine blessings; there is an intrinsic sense of sacredness in which the soul seeks its Divine Maker. The parts of the mass are clearly marked and depict a specific form in its words, the priest and altar positions; also, the rite is specific in the particular use of candles, Gregorian hymns, incense, communion rail and bells which serve to call and elevate all the senses to a heightened state of adoration into the eternal realm. The triple repetition of many prayers call for the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost and help to bring back the memory and attention of the faithful.
In all of these acts that include the physical senses, the emotions, the will and the reason I find a complete participation of being, which purpose is the surrender in charity to God. It is a sense of recollection in which each person is apart from the world to find communion with God in union with the faithful -and from which love of God springs the love of neighbour.